Women, or couples, deciding to undergo an egg donation treatment usually arrive at this decision after other avenues of assisted reproduction such as IUI and IVF have been considered, explored and unfortunately, failed. They are accompanied by a back story of hope, disappointment, anxiety, financial worries, and grief. Infertility grief, like other forms, follows the 5 stages of grieving:
- Denial: insisting the doctors or test results are wrong or denying their feelings.
- Anger: at friends and family who have no difficulty in getting pregnant, their partner, doctors, and at themselves.
- Bargaining: making self-promises that if they behave in a certain way they will get pregnant, trying not to feel the pain.
- Depression: feelings of isolation, anxiety, dread, and despair can be experienced. Counseling can and does help many patients.
- Acceptance: the belief that it is going to be ok. In this stage, patients may start to explore other ways of becoming a parent that hadn´t previously been thought about. For example, using donor eggs.
Will I feel like the baby’s mother if we use donated eggs?
In an egg donation treatment, the eggs come from a young healthy donor, either fresh or frozen from an egg bank, and the sperm from the male partner, or a sperm donor if there is male infertility or no male partner. As such the woman will have to give up the idea of passing on her genes to her children.
Although initially it may be difficult to come to terms with the fact that their DNA will not be passed onto the baby, mothers usually find that as the pregnancy develops and their child is born, it makes no difference to them that the egg came from a donor. It is the recipient woman who is the biological mother, carrying the developing baby in her uterus and using her blood and her body to create her baby.
Rethinking ideas about being mom
Being a mom is not about passing on genes. Being a mom is changing diapers, wiping noses, struggling over your kids’ math homework, convincing them to eat broccoli, organizing play dates, and many, many sleepless nights.
It’s about hugs, giggles, silly shared stories, bedtime rituals, the goodnight kiss on the forehead, watching them as they sleep (and then waking them up when checking they are still breathing!). Being there through the steps they take through their life. The bonds come from parenting and not from passing on DNA.
There also is epigenetics to consider. The patient may not have provided the DNA herself, but it is her body that will decide how the genes in that DNA are expressed. The mother’s environment, behavior and choices can affect how those genes are used. It isn’t possible to change the DNA code, but the way the code is read and used is determined by the woman´s body.
Managing other people’s ideas of what donor conception means
Coming to terms with an egg donation treatment, achieving pregnancy, and being parents of a donor-conceived child are part of the patient’s life forever, and such a positive experience that any genetic grief is usually left in the past.
However, it may take time, numerous explanations, and plenty of patience to navigate the well-meaning but insensitive comments from friends, family, and co-workers. Not everyone will be capable of understanding what donor conception really means, either medically or emotionally. Staying strong in one’s beliefs, having a positive attitude, having a ready supply of preformed responses, and developing a thick skin can always help.
At Ovobank ID we are proud to help patients struggling with infertility achieve their dreams of becoming parents, and have a wide range of donor eggs available in our egg bank. Treatments using our frozen donor eggs have resulted in success rates well above the average. If you are interested in this treatment, or any other assisted reproduction technique, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We will be happy to provide you with an assessment and find the best possible solution to suit your needs.